By TOYIN IDOWU
Resumption is here again when most parents are faced with the challenge of finding good schools for their children. It’s either the first school your children would be attending or you are just changing school for them due to one reason or the other like moving to a new area or you were just dissatisfied with the former one. There are basically some things to consider when scouting for a new school some of which are more important than others. Below are some tips to guide you.
The first thing you should have at the back of your mind is that you can never get a school that suits your desire absolutely, schools that have everything you had ever wanted are never in existence. There would always be one thing or the other that you may likely have to overlook and cope with; it could be the colour or the design of the school uniform, the lunch menu, the after school class arrangement, the school bus itinerary, the school fees etc. Whatever the case may be, make sure you don’t have a sensitive issue to cope with that could mar your child’s career. For example, if a school has teachers who don’t dress properly, or don’t know how to develop the children’s skills, I think you need to review your choice with your spouse; they are too sensitive issues to be overlooked.
The kind of future you would like to create for your children matters a lot and the grooming begins right from their pre-nursery days. If you want an outstanding, courageous child that will stand tall among his or her peers, then anyhow school won’t work for you but if you want a child that will just be there, who goes to school because everybody goes to school, then you can afford to peach your tent in a school that will enable you achieve that. The future you envision for your child matters a lot and don’t forget, this is the foundation you are building for your own future as well which you must give serious consideration to.
Clean and secure location is a non-negotiable characteristic you should look out for especially for your pre-schools. There should not be any health and safety hazards anywhere around the school. Furniture and any equipment must not have sharp edges. Electric outlets must have covers and anything else that poses harm to kids should be kept out of their reach. Furthermore, is the school located by major road side, major motor parks, markets or any other area very liable to attack from riots in the community? How effective are the internal security personnel? How easy is it for the security control measures to be punctured by an outsider? These questions are very important in deciding which school you choose.
It’s not just enough for a school to be established, it must be well equipped with the necessary basic facilities to keep the school kid-friendly. Check out for facilities such as the sick bay or at least first aid box, toilet room, no-slip flooring both for play and learning, various types of toys, library for good story books, learning aids in form of CDs. The classrooms should be well-lit and well ventilated. Positive and colourful designs should be visible for the kids.
Finance is very important! Under normal condition, parents are supposed to have started saving for their children’s education right from the cradle but due to one reason or the other, most of us don’t get to start doing it on time in this part of the world. For whatever its worth, your finance should be considered so that you don’t put your child through emotional trauma of being sent in and out of the school at intervals for inability to meet up with payment deadlines. Some of us have been there before; it doesn’t smell nice at all. Don’t fall into the illusion that the most expensive school would be the best for your child. There are still schools that charge moderate fees yet they deliver and would easily fit into your child’s career plan. Try cutting your coat according to your size.
However, there are times when you have to stretch yourself a bit more than you could afford at a time. Times you don’t have to consider the financial implication but all you are set out for is giving your child the best because we are talking about the child’s foundation here. Child’s education is one of the aspects of life that could sometimes defy the saying that one should cut his coat according to his or her size. The reason is that cheap things could be more expensive on the long run. For example, if you are considering your pocket and you send your child to a mushroom school with no capable hands, by the time the school is done with him or her, it’s either you spend more money to rebuild the already messed-up foundation again or he goes on building on the faulty foundation. If you have schools around and it’s like they don’t meet the educational standard you had envisioned for your kid, if you see a better one but a bit more expensive than what you felt you could afford, I don’t think you should hesitate taking your child there. All you need do is structure your finances and let some things go off your list for some time. I know quite a number of “big boys” in town who do monthly contribution to pay school fees for their children.
Is the school approved by the government? No matter how good a school is, irrespective of the good hands they could have, if it has not been approved by the government, please trash it. Sending your children to unapproved schools could be very risky because if the government decides to come after them just like they did to some higher institutions with satellite campuses few years ago in Lagos Nigeria, it means you have set up your child for demoralisation and set back because this could translate to some wasted years of no certificate.
For those of us that are looking for schools for our nursery and primary school kids, let’s try as much as possible to get schools not too far from either our homes or our working places. This will be very important in case there is any emergency that requires our attention.
You know your child better so I won’t expect you to be in the dark concerning the school curriculum. There are some kids who do well with Montessori system of teaching while some do well with the behavioural and cognitive method. It depends on what you think will benefit your child. At this point, I will like to mention that in my personal view, if your child is the best student in a particular school, pull him out fast and take him to another school that will be more challenging for him or. That’s another way of developing your child’s self-esteem and taking him or her out of the comfort zone.
Low teacher-student ratio is another factor to be considered. Some schools, because they are very interested in getting money or perhaps, lack adequate facilities, they lump students up in classes. Ideally, a teacher should handle about twelve pupils in a class for pre-scholars but having teacher aides or assistants could be reasonable when having classes with larger number of pupils. For any teacher to do thorough jobs on your kids there should be a low teacher-student ratio.
Conclusively, you may need to talk to some parents in your locality for advice and recommendation if you are moving to a new location. After you must have assessed with the above tips and take series of advice from parents, you need to work with what your conscience leads you to do. The parents must have assessed using some of the above mentioned parameters and people’s recommendations based on their own experience at a particular time with their own children but you are in the best position to know what makes your child tick. All the best!
Keep a date with the author every Thursday on Reality with Toyin Idowu on ExpressNG. Follow him twitter on @ThoyinIdowu Or visit www.toyinidowu.blogspot.com